Back from the Textile Center Garage Sale, an annual one-day event many sewers, including me, look forward to all year. Imagine thousands of bundles of wools, cottons, silks, synthetics and mystery fibers; yarns and thread, notions, sewing and crafts magazines and books; looms, sewing machines, pressing equipment, even UFOs (unfinished objects), all donated by local sewers clearing their workspaces, at incredibly low prices. It’s a crazy, wonderful sale.
Back in February I evaluated all my fabrics and set aside about a quarter of them for the sale. I looked at all those donations once more earlier this week. I ended up keeping a few after all, just for making wearable tests–the step between making a muslin and cutting into my beloved fashion fabrics.
For the 1930s jacket I’m currently working on, I made a wearable test from a linen-lookalike polyester. Lookalike, but not sew alike. I should have known a poly wasn’t going to help me see how a linen would behave. So I swapped out yards of synthetics I’d bought on the cheap at previous Textile Center sales for several natural fiber fabrics of different weights and drapes for my test garments.
The purchasers of eight or nine of my fabrics today got a card with a note.
The front looked like this:
The back looked like this.
I gave a lot of thought to the wording of my message. I had only this small space to convey a history and a request. The fabric represented happy memories: a trip, a garment, or at least enjoyable daydreaming. But I didn’t want to seem overly protective of “my” fabric.
I also didn’t want to appear too nosy, obligate the sewer to get back to me, or shamelessly promote Getting Things Sewn. Was I too subtle? Did the buyers even turn over the cards and notice the messages on the backs?
If I get any responses, I’ll let you know.
As for me, I joyfully rummaged through the wool and cotton tables, and carted home two grocery bagfuls of fabric: 13 pieces totaling $65.
Or the two yards of matka silk, the color of a basket of blueberries, that will probably become a jacket.
Or the subtle colorations of a textured wool that’s a wonderful pairing for a fabric in my stash and some of my vintage buttons.
The splendor of this rose print just looks lurid in the photo. The color combination is so much better than what I captured.
The Textile Center sale is as close to gambling as I get. I take risks buying fabrics without fiber content labels, guarantees or return policies. But the stakes are low. I can experiment and test my knowledge.
The three yards of crisp blue shirting I bought today for $3: is it cotton?
I tried a burn test, using the chart in Claire Shaeffer’s Fabric Sewing Guide.
Cotton, the chart says, burns “rapidly, yellow flame, continues burning burning, afterglow.” The odor is of “burning paper, leaves or wood.” Residue: “Brown-tinged end; light-colored, feathery ash.” This fabric smelled like cotton burning, but the ash was different. Maybe this is a blend? I could burn some fabrics I know are cotton for comparison.
I’m more interested, though, in identifying the colors of my new purchases using my nifty 3-in-1 Color Tool and then seeing a multitude of ways to coordinate them with the rest of my fabrics and wardrobe.
Fabrics come and go, but the challenge remains: getting things sewn. I just let go of fabrics I’d had for years. I don’t want these new purchases to suffer the same fate. What if I set myself the goal of doing something with each of today’s acquisitions before the Textile Center’s sale in 2015 or else turn them back in? This is a reasonable challenge. I’ll take it!